Disclaimer: I’ve had a few friends report to me about being duped by spiritual masters. Having never had a bad experience with a teacher myself, I have no idea why this came to me this morning, but if it is helpful to someone, then it is worth it to share. I sure had fun writing it. If it offends anyone, well, that can be helpful as well!
1. They don’t have a refreshing and disarming sense of humor. (If they are not lighthearted, ask yourself why would you want to work with them, or become more like them?)
2. They don’t like to dance. (Rigid body equals rigid mind, with the exception of someone in a wheelchair (Ken Keyes), or someone currently without a body (insert your favorite deceased master here____).
3. They don’t admit they are a work in progress. (Richard Bach, in his book Illusions, says: “Here’s a test to see if your learning on earth is complete: If you are still alive, it isn’t.”
4. They sleep with their disciples.
5. They have disciples.
6. They make the spiritual path seem long, arduous, and something that requires lifetimes of strict discipline.
7. They make the spiritual path seem easy and something that will get you everything you want and that requires little discipline.
8. They seem to value being distant from others and seeing themselves as more highly evolved than the average bozo on the bus.
9. They have no partner, no children, no close friends, no social life. (This is how many gurus are able to be spiritually enlightened and emotionally immature at the same time. Again, the question to ask yourself is, do I want to become more like this person? If it’s a yes, go for it!)
10. They demand large sums of money in order to work with them.
The keywords there are ‘demand’ and ‘large’. Everybody participating in our culture needs money to live; even spiritual teachers, who have to pay a staff, maintain a website, etc. If they want to reach others, it costs.
A true spiritual teacher, in my opinion, is not rigid about money, and does not turn people away for financial reasons.
How To Use This List in Three Easy Steps
1. If your spiritual teacher exhibits one of the characteristics, proceed with caution.
2. If they are expressing two things on this list, be extremely careful.
3. If they have three or more, don’t walk away, run, straight into the arms of a true spiritual master at scottsongs.com.
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There you have it. Did I miss anything? As I said earlier, I never actually was attracted to a spiritual teacher that exhibited any of these traits, so feel free to add or correct this list.
But it would be so nice and tidy if I could keep it to ten. Which leads me to…
11. Be careful when a spiritual teacher is a control freak. An example could be that they are attached to making lists and insisting that the list stays at a certain number.
12. Be weary when a spiritual teacher seems passionate about only their point of view being right.